by Michelle Heard
Release Date: August 26th
Genre: New Adult Romance
From USA Today Bestselling author Michelle Heard comes a new HOT friends to enemies to lovers standalone.
Everything changed the night my boyfriend died.
What should’ve been the most special moment of my life turned into a nightmare. Because of Hunter Chargill, I lost the love of my life. I’ll never forgive him.
Hunter used to be one of my best friends, but it turns out he’s nothing more than an arrogant a-hole determined to make my life a living hell.
But he should’ve known you can’t break something that’s already broken.
I manage to avoid him until my freshman year at Trinity Academy. Our cruel words and intimidating touches quickly spark a flame, and instead of us going down in a blaze of hatred, desire sizzles to life.
I know I’m in trouble when I start enjoying our fights. Instead of wanting to punch him, I find myself wondering what his lips would feel like on mine.
A stupid game. One kiss. And my perfectly constructed walls come crashing down around me.
I should feel guilty and make Hunter pay for what he’s done.
But sometimes a tormentor becomes a protector.
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From Hunter’s POV…
I’ve been staying in my room so Jade can get settled without running into me. I shouldn’t give a fuck whether she’s uncomfortable with me here, but I do.
Frustration mixes with the memories of our lost friendship. I can’t stop loving Jade the way she stopped caring about me. It’s not that easy.
Our friendship must’ve meant more to me than it did to her.
Needing a distraction, I open my playlist on my phone and turn up the volume when Love The Way You Lie starts to play.
I let the angry lyrics wash over me, and hurt and frustration boil to the surface. Wanting Jade to know how I feel about this fucking war, I yank my door open. Jase, who was just about to pass by my room to get to his own, freezes like a deer caught in headlights.
Jade yanks her door open, and glares at me, her breaths already rushing over her parted lips.
“Oh,” Jase says as he takes a couple of steps backward. “Fuck.”
I can see heartache mixing with the anger on her face, and I know the lyrics are getting through to her. I’m totally taking it as a win.
My eyes are locked on Jade’s as the song ends. I lift my phone and press stop, but Jade makes a show of looking at her own phone, and soon a song starts to play. The words are drenched in pain as they drift to me.
And I listen. I force myself to stay rooted, my eyes glued to Jade’s while the words lash at me. Praying. The fucking song hurts, tearing my already fucked up heart to shreds, but I don’t back away. This is the longest we’ve been in the same space since that night.
Hearing just how much Jade is hurting is sobering and tormenting. I always thought somehow we’d be able to work through this, but now I’m not so sure.
Where do I even begin to get past the walls she’s put up between us?
The song is a clear fuck you. Jade has no intention of ever being friends with me again.
When her song ends, I press play on Too Good At Goodbyes. I hope she listens to the lyrics the way I listen to hers. If this is the only way we can talk, then so be it.
Jase ducks low and rushes past our rooms. Before he disappears into his bedroom, he mumbles, “Fun times.”
As Jase takes refuge, other doors around us open, and our friends peek out of their rooms.
“They’re finally communicating,” Mila whispers to Fallon.
While the lyrics drift around us, I silently beg Jade, ‘Don’t think I’m heartless or cold. I don’t want to say goodbye. I still want to mean something to you. But fuck, you keep hurting me, and I’m only human. I’m scared the time will come where I can’t take anymore, and it will really mean the end of us.’
I can’t tell whether Jade can hear what I’m trying to say until she presses play on another song. Yeah, it’s going to be another soul-destroyer. She doesn’t care about what I want or how I feel.
The words You Broke Me First cuts right through me. I can see Jade is affected in the same way, and her raw pain screaming from her eyes is a blow that almost takes me to my knees.
I don’t choose another song, which has Jade continuing her torture session by playing another gut-punching song. It’s angrier than the first two, and I notice how the pain in her eyes dims as rage takes its place.
Crossing my arms, I lean against the door jamb while the tension keeps building. I don’t miss how Jade’s breaths keep coming faster.
I hate seeing her like this.
When I’m Not Afraid starts, Jade’s body tenses. After a couple of seconds, her anger wins out, and dropping her phone, she lunges forward.
Her arms come around my waist, and with a sweep of her foot, she takes my legs from under me, dropping my ass to the ground. I don’t have time to admire the move because she straddles me and slams a fist against my jaw.
My first instinct is to restrain her, but when a tear splats against my face, my body goes lax, and I let Jade have her way.
I don’t stop her fists, and I take all her anger and sorrow.
Kao is the first to grab hold of Jade, but Noah has to help him pull her off of me.
I sit up and don’t bother wiping the blood from my busted lip. My eyes never leave Jade as she drops to her knees, with our friends on either side of her. The breath she sucks in sounds painful as if she’s choking on the air, then she lets out an agonizing scream.
It’s the first time I see just how much she’s hurting, and it breaks something inside of me.
Maybe it’s the last hope I had of saving our friendship?
The ground might as well tear open and swallow me in a pit of darkness. The finality of losing Jade is too much to bear.
Kao wraps his arms around Jade, and presses her face against his chest, trying his best to console her. His gaze meets mine, and the worry he feels for us makes his blue eyes look like stormy waters.
Noah comes over to me and hands me a piece of toilet paper he must’ve gotten while I was focused on Jade. I wipe the blood from my mouth and slowly climb to my feet.
“I’m sorry, Jade,” I say for the millionth time.
She’s the only person I’ve apologized to in my life.
“I wish I could say I’d do things differently if I had the chance, but there’s still no way I’d let you lose your virginity in a guest room at the age of sixteen. You deserved better than that. And you were way too young,” I finally get to say the words, standing up for my actions of that fateful night.
Jade shoots forward like a bullet and stops an inch from me. I take in her tearstained cheeks and the broken look in her eyes. “Fuck you, Hunter.” She closes the distance between us until I can feel her warm breath on my neck. “Fuck. You.”
After twenty-four months of frustration and with my heart cracked wide fucking open in my chest, I lose my calm and shout, “What the fuck do you want me to say?”
“The truth!” she yells. “What did you do to Brady when you took him home?”
I suck in a deep breath and take a step backward to put some space between us. Struggling to regain my self-control, I growl, “Nothing. I dropped Brady off at home and left.”
“Liar,” she hisses, and then her face crumbles as she cries, “You’re a fucking liar.”
Jade storms out of my room, and soon after, the slam of her bedroom door echoes through the suite.
Feeling emotional and fucking exhausted, I sink down on the edge of my bed.
It feels like a tornado swept through me. Fuck, things are worse than I thought. The fact that Jade really thinks I played a part in Brady’s suicide sinks in like a ton of bricks.
To be continued…
About the Author:
Michelle Heard is a Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling Author who loves creating stories her readers can get lost in. She resides in South Africa with her son where she's always planning her next book to write, and trip to take.
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